Central Station

The Bay Area's Newest Destination

Thursday, March 27, 2008


You may have noticed that there is now a green house on the property in front of the sales office.
This structure was donated to People's Grocery, a non profit organization focusing on solving the community food and health needs of West Oakland by growing fresh fruit and vegetables, organically and locally.
I was able to walk into the green house the other day and it was like a steam bath in there. Rows of small plants, including 30+ varieties of tomatoes, are being incubated here and will then be transferred to People's Grocery's two acre farm in Sunol. They will then be packed into a SOUL box (Sustainable, Organic, Unprocessed and Local) and redistributed to residents in West Oakland. Peoples Grocery also has programs on healthy cooking, urban agriculture, nutrition and more. Please check them out at http://peoplesgrocery.org/

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How do you value 10 minutes?

In 1991, Holliday Development developed 601 4th Street, also designed by David Baker + Partners. These lofts sold amid a tough market and an even tougher neighborhood, as SOMA was yet to see much of its revitalization.

Originally the average sales price on these lofts was $285,000. Today, we just saw a listing for one of the penthouse homes for $1.959 million. As noted on SocketSite, this is a "truly unique San Francisco Space and Penthouse."

Now that the Holliday-Baker team has turned to the Pacific Cannery Lofts, the opportunity is here for another truly unique space by the same team, this time located just on the other side of the bridge, about 10 minutes away (and for about $1.5 million less than this penthouse).


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wave GOODBYE to the Scaffolding (or at least some of it)

This is when it gets exciting. The scaffolding at PCL is starting to come down, revealing the building one elevation at a time. We first saw the beautiful eggplant color of the stucco at the entrance to the sales office and design center. This color will continue into the largest courtyard where it will be complimented with a soft blue/grey on the opposite courtyard wall. Next you will see the soft green/yellow color of the middle courtyard that will soon be complimented by lush greenery. The last courtyard will be more of a soft yellow. The real pop will come along the main corridor wall with a bright lime green that you will walk by but not stare at everyday! It should be gorgeous!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Learning Life Skills

A few weeks ago we posted on Stephon Taylor and Reggie Collier, two apprentices from the local area that are actively involved on the construction side of the Pacific Cannery Lofts. The two apprentices impressed us, and now they're both noted on the cover of the Oakland Tribune.

Cecily Burt of the Tribune writes:
"Taylor, 20, an apprentice electrician working for Rex Moore Electrical Contractors and Engineers, is one of a handful of local residents who are helping build a variety of residential developments within the large Central Station project in West Oakland — practically in his own backyard.

What makes Taylor's story unique? He learned the basic fundamentals of the construction trades — carpentry, electrical work and plumbing — during a bare-bones, six-week training program run by Bruce Cox in a West Oakland warehouse.

Cox, a contractor and owner of MBC Construction who also helped create a similar construction job training program for the Men of Valor group at Acts Full Gospel Church, said he is determined to give his time, knowledge and energy to help every aimless young person land a good job...

Taylor has been working for Rex Moore electrical contracting for about eight months. Every three months he attends state-licensed electrician apprentice classes in Hayward, a four-year program conducted by the Western Electrical Contractors Association, and he continues to attend twice-weekly training classes conducted by Cox, both to learn new skills and refresh and reinforce the ones he knows.

"I like the people I work with, and I like the fact that I'm going to school (to continue to learn)," Taylor said while pulling wire through framed walls in the Pacific Cannery Lofts project, one of several new residential developments that will cover 29 acres along Wood Street between 12th Street and West Grand Avenue.

Taylor said his co-workers have been helpful.

"Most of the guys I work with are from Sacramento, and they all have country accents," Taylor joked. "I'm teaching them the urban style."

His foreman, Darvin Crawford, said Taylor is a very good worker who has caught on quickly and worked hard to overcome his lack of experience and the lure of the neighborhood.

"I couldn't say a bad thing about him ... He's highly intelligent and picked up the wiring very fast," Crawford said. "He's very young, and he's going to make a lot of mistakes ... but he's a good kid. I told him if he stays with it he'll make $100,000 a year, no problem."

"This is good for Stephon," Cox said after visiting the job site. "He grew up here in West Oakland and he's positioning himself to make big money. I'm happy he keeps coming to class."

Taylor's wide smile showed he's happy things worked out, too. He said he really likes his job at Rex Moore and thinks he's found his niche in electrical work.

A few other of Cox's students also are working on the Central Station developments — with good results so far."

For the full article, click here:


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Monday, March 24, 2008

Calling all Nurses

The Center for Housing policy released a study that for many markets of jobs, homeownership is out of reach as unaffordable for those workers. The Inman News Blog wrote a piece on this study, and as an example cited nurses and their lack of ability to own a home in the Bay Area.

But at the Pacific Cannery Lofts with 4.99% financing, we are now calling on all nurses (and other professionals in the same situation) who have felt the effects outlined in the housing study and feel like homeownership is out of grasp. With homes starting at $350,000 and one of the lowest fixed rate loans in the country, the opportunity to buy is opening for for a wide range of hard working professionals. We've even reached out to the California Association of Nurses to try and spread the news.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pocket Parks and Elevated Tracks

The newest addition to one of the many pocket parks in the Central Station Community can be seen in this blogs image. The beautiful metal trellises are actual pieces of the 16th Street Station’s elevated tracks that needed to be removed to make way for the next set of building that will go between the Ironhorse Apartments and the 16th Street Station itself. Beautiful paths and pocket parks will be the connective tissue between the varied living units of the Central Station making for an integrated, walkable community. It should be beautiful! I keep imagining the plazas, paths and parks full of residents on a sunny day.

Ironhorse Groundbreaking Ceremony

Last Thursday, March 13th, was yet another beginning for the Central Station Community! Ground was broken for BRIDGE's Ironhorse Apartments, which will offer 99 newly constructed family apartments at 14th St. between Wood Street and Frontage Road. The apartments contain a mix of one, two and three bedroom units affordable to families with annual incomes ranging from $18,000 – $50,000. Twenty of the apartments are being made affordable to those with the lowest incomes, through rent subsidies administered by the Oakland Housing Authority. Ironhorse will be BRIDGE’s first GreenPoint Rated development, as well as it first to participate in the Bay-Friendly landscaping program. As a result, the design includes numerous sustainable or “green” building and landscaping measures. Ironhorse at Central Station represents BRIDGE’s continued commitment to the development of high quality innovative design. (Above is West Oakland Neighbor Marilyn Reynolds speaking at the ceremony)

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Who Lives Here?

We often get comments about our models saying that it really feels like someone lives there. Well…that’s kind of true, because we envision who would reside in each home, real or imaginary, before we begin to pull it together. Take the Live/Work Grove loft for instance. Our “poster child” there is Kristin Long, president and owner of MIGHTYminnow, a boutique web development, training and coaching firm based in Oakland. (you can see evidence of her logo development and the final logo on the door and by the desk) I met Kristin when I took a web coding class in the city. So taken by her knowledge and teaching style, I hired her to code the Pacific Cannery Lofts website.

Kristin grew up in Nebraska. Moving to SF after college, she accepted a receptionist job in a web company where she quickly absorbed the business and now runs her own. MIGHTYminnow is blossoming and she has recently been asked to join ADOBE where she teaches Dreamweaver and gives input on future ADOBE software releases. For fun she took up swing dance, began to teach that also and eventually helped start SwingOUT!, the first gay and lesbian swing dance organization in the bay area. In 1998 she joined the organizing team of CAMP SWING whose program brings swing dancers from all over together in beautiful Mendocino for a weekend of fun, flare and rhythm.

Ironically, Kristin has now reserved a unit at the Pacific Cannery Lofts and is one of the many young enterprising entrepreneurs that will be the constitution of this new vibrant community. Like most up and coming business people Kristin is looking forward to working at home but having the gallery/café as her third space where she can meet clients, work without the cat on her lap for a little while and strike up interesting conversations with other live/workers.

Oh…and the cupcake cookbooks?……Kristin’s favorite dessert!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Time Trials 4 - Pacific Cannery Lofts to Gilman Street

We talk about the Pacific Cannery Lofts being in the center of an exciting corridor running from Jack London Square in Oakland to Gilman Street in Berkeley. KB & Steph see how long it takes to get from the Pacific Cannery Lofts to the end of that corridor - Jimmy Beans cafe on Gilman St. for some lunch.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Road To Myself

As I am battling traffic on Embarcadero in San Francisco, I remember the days when I had the whole road to myself. Of course those days are long over in the South Beach/ South of Market area.

Back in the late 80’s, I worked in a loft building with an artist in South Beach not far from the Clock Tower. I remember how quiet and at times creepy the neighborhood felt. The general consensus was that the neighborhood was “in transition”. After the 89’ earthquake things really changed. The highway that divided the Waterfront and Ferry Building from downtown and the Cypress Structure was removed.

As I cruise down Mandela Parkway on my way to Pacific Cannery Lofts, I am reminded of the days of having the road to myself in a neighborhood “in transition”. Hmm…sounds like a tune I have heard before.

Historical Perspective...

In 1989, Rick Holliday completed the first conversion loft building in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, which at the time was a residential outpost in the middle of an industrial neighborhood on the brink of transformation. Like the Pacific Cannery Lofts, the Heublien Building was a concrete structure offering loft dwellers an opportunity to purchase large, creative space in a truly industrial neighborhood, at a fraction of the cost of other residential options. Against conventional wisdom of the time, the Heublien Building, located at 601 4th Street, was converted into 88 lofts, igniting a transformation of the industrial areas of San Francisco’s SOMA district.

Follow this link to a current listing at 601 4th Street – this loft, by the same developer and architect, originally sold for around $300,000 and is now listed at over $1,300,000.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ignore the Headlines?

That's what Time Magazine writer Dan Kadlec says in his recent article dated February 25th. There are really two markets to time, the housing market and the interest rate market, and there is looking to be a rare union of two great opportunities when you put them together. With rates at near historical lows (see the chart of how rates have trended over the past 30 years), we may be in a short-lived window to capture some of the best values available in decades.

As our mortgage lender so aptly put it earlier this week, a buyer isn't really paying the purchase price (say $400,000), they are paying a downpayment (say $12,000) and a monthly payment (say $1,900/month). So whether the purchase price is $395,000 or $405,000, that difference is far over-shadowed in a monthly payment by just a .5% change in interest rates. The chart below illustrates how a change in interest rates can have a significant impact on your monthly payment:
With rates near historical lows, a temporary federal government stimulus package being passed, and an election looming, Dan Kadlec of Time Magazine makes the following conclusion on someone waiting to time the market and facing a potential increase in rates: "If you waited a year to buy, you have saved nothing and spent a year living someplace you'd rather not be."


Monday, March 3, 2008

The Commute

Brian, the commuter, faces a day of work in contrast to that of Ava, the live-work entrepreneur at the Pacific Cannery Lofts. How's your commute?

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